(ENA) Facts on the Ethiopia-Sudan border issue
Since November 2020, the border issue has become an important topic in shaping the bilateral relations between Ethiopia and Sudan. As officially confirmed by the Sudanese authorities, this was triggered following the military incursion of the Sudanese army into Ethiopian territory. In this regard, the Sudanese authorities affirmed that “Sudan has recovered its territory occupied by Ethiopia for twenty-five years”. To avoid any confusion on the subject, it is necessary to correct the file and provide precise information on the border between the two countries.
Sudan has invaded lands that are part of Ethiopian territory. In its indefensible conduct, the Sudanese army has demolished Ethiopian administrative institutions, overtaken military camps, killed and displaced residents, and destroyed their crops and property. The Sudan has acted in flagrant violation of international law against the use of force and of the border demarcation treaties.
The border between Ethiopia and Sudan was demarcated by the Treaty of 1902 signed between Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia and Great Britain, then the colonial power of Sudan. The claim by some Sudanese officials that Ethiopia does not accept the demarcation of the border under the 1902 treaty is without merit.
While the Joint Commission made up of Ethiopian and British representatives was to demarcate the dividing line as provided for in the 1902 treaty, in 1903 a British surveyor, Major Gwynn, unilaterally demarcated the border. The surveyor acted in the absence of representatives of Ethiopia and without permission from the Ethiopian government. Further, Major Gwynn broke the 1902 treaty and made discretionary adjustments to the treaty line. As a result, the Ethiopian government rejected Major Gwyn’s demarcation.
After the independence of the Sudan in 1956, Ethiopia and the Sudan held a series of consultations on the matter and adopted the exchange of notes of 1972. On this exchange of notes, Ethiopia and the Sudan agreed to redefine the border. They also agreed to use Major Gwynn’s demarcation as the basis for the joint redefinition work. Clearly, Major Gwynn himself wanted his demarcation work to serve as the basis for future relations between the two governments.
One might wonder why Ethiopia fundamentally accepted Major Gwynn’s in 1972 after sixty-nine years of rejection. In this regard, the most fundamental factor is the agreement between Ethiopia and Sudan to redefine the border by rectifying the Gwynn demarcation.
Corrections are considered from two aspects. First, the exchange of notes rectifies Major Gwyn’s line of demarcation south of Mount Dagleish to ‘cross the ridge points rather than the base of the hills of Halawa, Umdoga, El Mutan and Mount Jerok’, this than Major Gwynn, contrary to the Treaty of 1902 included in Sudanese territory. Second, the exchange of notes requires, before the redefinition of the border, to study the problem resulting from the settlements and cultivation north of Dagleish Mountain with a view to finding an amicable solution.
Therefore, rectifications to the boundary line north of Mount Dagleish must be jointly determined by the two countries.
The adjustment of Major Gwynn’s demarcation south of Mount Dagleish was effected as stated in the Exchange of Notes of 1972. For the northern boundary area of Mount Dagleish, the two countries agreed to establish a special joint committee. which would conduct field studies and propose an amicable solution. As a result, the Special Joint Committee was established in 2002 and has so far held eight rounds of meetings and expected to present a proposal containing an amicable solution.
It should also be noted that, in accordance with the 1972 Exchange of Notes, Ethiopian and Sudanese nationals cannot be removed from their holdings. These holdings are recorded by the Restricted Joint Working Group (JSWG) from March 2004 to January 2005. Ethiopia and Sudan have agreed to maintain the status quo until the matter is settled by agreement.
Therefore, the military incursion of the Sudanese army into Ethiopian territory in the first week of November 2020 is illegal and provocative. First, it violates the basic international principle against the threat and use of force provided for in Article 2 (4) of the Charter of the United Nations and the peaceful settlement of disputes provided for in Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations. United Nations. Second, it undermines the joint demarcation mechanisms that are in place and the progress made so far in fulfilling the task of demarcation.
The Sudanese military incursion was carried out following the redeployment of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces in the first week of November 2020 for law enforcement measures in the Tigray region. The Sudanese army has killed Ethiopians residing in the area, looted and destroyed their hard-earned property, and created fear and chaos in the border area. Taking advantage of the internal situation of a friendly and close neighbor country is deplorable and threatens the good neighborliness between the two countries. This unwarranted action by the Sudanese army opened the way to suspicion and complicated the search for a peaceful and lasting solution to the border dispute.
Therefore, the aggression of the Sudanese army must be reversed in order to create an environment conducive to the functioning of bilateral mechanisms. In the event of Sudan’s failure to comply with international law and bilateral agreements, Ethiopia reserves the right to defend itself, in accordance with international law.
Ethiopia and Sudan enjoy a strategic partnership and deep-rooted relationships in social, economic, security, economic and many other areas. They also have concerted mechanisms to resolve the border problem. The invasion of the Sudanese army and the military confrontation are futile. Even if Ethiopia and Sudan resort to military confrontation, redefining the border will require discussions and diplomacy. Therefore, it would be reckless and against the will of the peoples of Ethiopia and Sudan to engage in unnecessary war.